Hey there my friends. While much of the world is working from home, guess who else has been working remotely? Cyber criminals.
It’s unfortunate, but in this fear-ridden climate, scammers are working to use that fear against us to steal our money and identity and a new wave of scams are hitting mailboxes, both real and electronic promising emergency relief funds in exchange for your personal and bank account information.
The FBI, state attorneys general and other agencies are alerting Americans that phone calls, texts, emails or letters in the mail asking for personal or financial information to receive federal relief payments are not legit. In fact, the Better Business Bureau has reported that the level of “stimulus scams” has gone through the roof. In fact, a Florida man actually received a check in the mail from “Stimulus Relief Program” and called his local news station to warn fellow Americans to be on high alert for stimulus check scams.
Real stimulus payments are likely arrive within the next three weeks or so, but there’s no action necessary on your part to receive the funds. Under the program, all U.S. residents with an adjusted gross income up to $75,000 ($150,000 married), who are not a dependent of another taxpayer and have a work-eligible Social Security number, are eligible for the full rebate check. According to the plan, you may receive up to $1,200 per adult, or $2,400 if you filed jointly and are eligible for an additional $500 per child. These relief payments are due to arrive for even those who have no income, or whose income comes entirely from non-taxable means-tested benefit programs, such as SSI (Supplemental Security Income). The Internal Revenue Service will use your 2019 or 2018 tax return to determine how much money to send and how (via check or direct deposit). For more details including some good Q&A’s, go to irs.gov/coronavirus.
We have a lot here. I recommend you at least skim each one:
- Hang up on robocalls. Don’t press any numbers. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from scam Coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list, but it might lead to more robocalls, instead.
- Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. Scammers are trying to get you to buy products that aren’t proven to treat or prevent the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — online or in stores. At this time there are no FDA-authorized home test kits for the Coronavirus.
- Fact-check information. Scammers, and sometimes well-meaning people, share information that hasn’t been verified. For example, drinking bleach or snorting cocaine will not cure you of Coronavirus. Before you pass on any messages, contact trusted sources. Visit What the U.S. Government is Doing for links to federal, state and local government agencies.
- Know who you’re buying from. Online sellers may claim to have in-demand products, like cleaning, household, and health and medical supplies when, in fact, they don’t. We are seeing a lot of scammers on Amazon so be careful.
- Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. They could download malware onto your computer or device.
- Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying they have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.
Stay safe out there